We have a lot of solutions for media center out there and choosing the perfect choice for you can be a challenge. It depends on what they plan to do with your media center setup. For me, I want to see the content downloaded and my own films that I have stored on my external hard drive for purposes of backup. Recording TV is not my interest.
As the title suggests that prefer to use the Mac mini for this purpose, however, I talk a bit about the other options I tried. This will make you better understand why I went this route in the first place.
First, the Xbox 360. This is a game console with media capabilities, and it worked fine. I had this console as a media center for a while, but sometimes you can not play certain file formats. If that's the case I had to re-encode some of them and that takes a long time and nothing of what I do on a regular basis. Because they continued to use the Xbox as it was intended to be used, gambling games.
We also have the Apple TV. This was a very nice device really, but the real drawback is that files are supported only iTunes can play. The same here as the Xbox. Re encoding media = time-consuming thing to me. However, this unit can be hacked, and then play almost any media. Due to the slow CPU in this unit only video game to 720p, and therefore. It is not acceptable to me.
Then there is the Popcorn Hour A-110. After the Mac Mini that would be the best option. This unit can play any kind of files I threw at it. Has also been addressed by high-resolution video with no problem at all. The price was well and has worked very well. Get firmware updates from time to time and the community around the device is active.
Popcorn Hour's interface is in my opinion, slow, ugly, and music playback on this device is not a good experience at all. It seemed acceptable, but yet. I also have the capability of good music.
And now, the Mac Mini. The most important reason for me wanting to use the Mac mini is free media center application called Plex. This free software impresses me every time I use it. It is developed only for Mac, though still in beta as of this writing the software works well. This will work perfectly on the Mac Mini, and does it in my base model. Another thing that impresses me is how the library works complex. In fact, it analyzes the file names, for example, the folder of the movie. Then you are looking for information about the movie over the Internet and Download the synopsis, cover art and everything automatically. This is what I like best.
The other reason for me to want to get the Mac Mini despite the fact that costs more is because it is a full team. You can run any number of services in this little machine, if you want. Share your Internet connection, use as router, firewall, web-serving, whatever. While still used as a HTPC.
True, it costs a bit more, but I think worthwhile.
Author: B. Kibsgaard
Read more about the Mac Mini Media Center Setup here: http://www.all-about-apple.com/mac-mini-as-media-center.html
All About Apple: http://www.all-about-apple.com
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